Sonor's Jungle kit has been around since the '90s and has always been popular on account of its portability. It's now part of the updated Force 3007 series, topping Sonor's semi-pro level, made in China with hybrid shells of Canadian and Chinese maple.
We're still not really sure what the difference in quality is between Canadian and Chinese maple, but the Canadian variety is seen as more desirable and professional. Sonor uses it on the outer and inner plies of the 3007 shells. The actual construction is 5.8mm thick, with 1.7mm Canadian maple either side of a 2.4mm Chinese maple core.
The review kit is a glittering Blue Sparkle lacquer and there are 10 other finishes to choose from. Looking inside the shells reveals the Canadian maple veneer which looks top quality. The 45 degree bearing edges are carefully cut and have the tiniest of round-overs to the outside. The 16"x16" bass drum is basically a converted floor tom, and previously that meant making do with metal hoops.
Today, though, the Jungle has wood hoops, rounded off and lacquered to match the shells. They improve the look hugely and also help warm the sound.
One advantage of using a floor tom as the starting point is that you get the full compliment of 16 lugs for accurate tuning.
In order that your bass pedal beater strikes the centre, the bass drum has a 3" (7cm) lift - a simple welded steel plate which slots into a floor tom leg bracket on the underside of the shell. It detaches for transporting, so you can just about squeeze the kick into a 16" floor tom case.
The two toms are described as 'short' sizes - 10"x8" and 14"x12" - the latter with three legs sporting enormous isolating rubber feet. You could, of course, add different sized toms from the 3007 range, although we imagine few will.
The small tom attaches to the bass drum via Sonor's TAR (Total Acoustic Resonance) mounting system. This is a 'T' shaped plate which clamps onto two upper tension brackets while the base of the 'T' bolts directly into the shell for stability. The TARS bracket is clamped to a hexagonal 'L' rod and position-adjusted via a ball-and-socket holder.
This slots into a height extension post which in turn slots into the rounded bass drum mount. It sounds more complicated than it is and, as we expect from Sonor, it works just fine.
There are stout memory locks on the tom mount, spurs, tom legs and pedal riser. Lugs are Sonor's single-ended twin mallet logo design, mounted on black plastic isolating plinths.
There was no snare with the review kit although Sonor does make a skinny Jungle 10"x2" which can be mounted from a special tom stand bracket. Alternatively, the 3007 range includes 12"x5" and 13"x7" snares.
Previously we'd only seen the Jungle on artist DVDs and we weren't expecting that big a sound, especially from the bass drum. Imagine our surprise then when we first pedalled it and was treated to an aggressive and unexpectedly rich tone. We couldn't believe just how raunchy the bass drum sounded in a work room.
I was expecting a hard, minimalist bonk, but instead got a fat blast with more breadth than seemed possible, just like Jojo Mayer gets on his DVD. We did tune the batter right down for maximum bass end, while giving an extra turn to the front to liven up the projection. For jazz or electro styles, higher tensions all round give authentic, boomy sounds.
Small toms are familiar fare on modern kits and we're often amazed by how much they seem to punch above their weight. This little 10"x8" is no exception and for some reason we found ourselves playing rim shots on it, making a stunning racket. The 14"x12" has almost as much attack but also benefits from the bright warmth that is characteristic of maple.
Overall, this is a feisty little kit, and the three drums blend together perfectly. We'd have liked to have tried the Jungle on a jazz gig, but had to settle - once we'd got up the courage to risk it - on a small rock gig. Inevitably the bass drum (so impressive in my dining room) struggled a bit. The aggression was there but not the power or depth.
We screwed the batter up a quarter-turn or so in order to hear it better. It was far from disastrous, though. The two toms, on the other hand, were blasting it out.
The Jungle's closest rival is Yamaha's Manu Katché Hip Gig, which has Philippines mahogany shells, not Canadian maple. Small drums always have a surprising amount of clout, but we were knocked out by the overall balance of the three drums - this is truly a fun kit.